No, we’re not trying to jump the Valentine’s Day bandwagon and slap a heart atop talk about software and SaaS – although we do love the space and our role in it. What we did want to share was something we see across ISVs worldwide as they work to gain “customer’s love” … that immeasurable goal so often the driver behind the more standard metrics of customer satisfaction, customer traction, and growth … and ultimately revenue.
Online, Pervasive, Customer Facing Systems – Expanded
What does this all come down to? In life, as in the business of software … well, love cannot be forced. Yet, a customer will be willing to try a product for free, read a peer review, ask a question on social media, watch a demo, and yes, even read the occasional marketing material. With the average consumer touched over ten times before engaging a sales person or making a buying decision, vendors have to rethink how they respond to any customer signal and enable every touch point to either transact with, or to service the customer. There is a reason Gartner calls eCommerce the 4th leg of CRM – the need to be able to extend eCommerce to when and where the customer wants is fundamental. At the same time, eCommerce alone is not enough to drive LOVE.
Subscriptions Extended To the Touch Points
While we all hear of the new revenue models (e.g., freemium, trial, and subscriptions) pushing vendors to have to first earn the right for customer love, as well as engage in a longer-term customer relationships, the commerce platform plays a key role to support the business implications of these revenue models. eCommerce coupled with Subscription Billing enables vendors to engage and service the customer across the life of the customer – from quoting, ordering, through to provisioning a new subscription or delivering new licenses for a downloaded product – enabling customer ordering (ecommerce, billing) and servicing within the context of the customer need (billing, support, channels).
This, in turn, will lead to strong, on-going vendor-customer relationships, increased retention rates, keeping brand consistency across channels, as well as empowering channels themselves (distribution) to support end-customer relationships beyond the first sale.
Sometimes You Need A Little Help From Your Friends
Building direct customer love is certainly critical, but with over 55% of revenue for technology companies still driven by their channel partners (Forrester Survey, 12/11), protecting your future revenue growth as your business models change requires you to build some channel love. With revenue via channels actually increasing, not decreasing … affiliates directing ever more traffic and guiding buyer intention, resellers and distributors rapidly changing their own business models and becoming app stores for their niches, vendors who can effectively leverage the new world of eCommerce to enable their resellers to not only sell, but to grow end-customer use over time will certainly find long term and defendable customer love.
… but where does that leave us in our discussion?
The Whole Is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts
To this point, we are big believers that successful commerce requires bringing together eCommerce infrastructure and services, billing and distribution. Why does it make sense to have it all under one roof? Having the speed and flexibility to quickly launch new products supporting new revenue models, deploy new business models, and scale globally is critical in the very dynamic world of software and Cloud Service companies. Focus on what makes you loveable, increase your attention on your customer and not on your IT department supporting stitching together multiple systems that make up an increasingly complex business system.
There’s More Honey in the Pot
Stay tuned as we continue to explore other synergy aspects of a full commerce platform on this blog – starting from capabilities such as supported business models, integration tools, globalization and more. In the meantime, we’d like to hear your thoughts on how you view the connection between customer satisfaction and retention and your commerce or billing platform – pros and cons, best practices.
Happy Valentine’s Day!